The Power of Events Has Never Been Greater

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The Power of Events Has Never Been Greater

By Rich Luna | Sep 14, 2020

The Road to Recovery: Executive Panel Discussion will take place during the MPI World Education Congress (WEC) in Grapevine, Texas, Nov. 4. Panelists include Nan Marchand, managing director of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition/U.S. Travel Association; Jason Dunn, chair of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals; Chuck Ghoorah, co-founder and president of Cvent; Susan Robertson, president and CEO of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE); and Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI. Annette Gregg, senior vice president of experience for MPI, is the panel moderator.

Today, we hear from Chuck Ghoorah, co-founder and president of worldwide sales and marketing for Cvent.

As one of our industry’s leaders, what have you found to be most challenging in identifying solutions for a sustainable future?

After more than 20 years in the meetings and events business, I’ve learned that one quote in particular sums up the lives of meeting planners and hospitality professionals: “The only constant in life is change.” Meeting and event organizers and their supplier partners are experts when it comes to adapting and rolling with the punches, and at Cvent, we’ve adapted and changed right along with them. We started out as a single-point solution for online event registration. Then, we realized event organizers needed onsite support, venue sourcing options, pre- and post-event marketing capabilities, a mobile event app and the list goes on.

We expanded our user base to include both event and hospitality professionals, which in turn has created a global marketplace where event professionals collaborate with venues to create unmatched experiences. These efforts helped us grow from just a few clients at the start to now more than 30,000 customers around the world. In short, we’ve had a sustainable, successful business over the years because we embraced change. I think the most challenging thing in identifying solutions for a more sustainable future is doing exactly that.

It’s not easy to embrace change, nor is it easy to determine how or when to adapt to it. Adapt too early, and the market won’t be ready. Pivot too late, and you’ll be left behind. This year is a great example. The global pandemic forced our industry to reevaluate how meetings and events are hosted. Early on in March, we saw what was coming and did our best to embrace it. We threw our 2020 plans out the window and dedicated our efforts to supporting our customers [as they] navigate through these times, helping them execute more than 60,000 virtual events on our platform. While we were doing this, our technology team was working diligently in the background developing our all-new virtual meetings platform—the Cvent Engagement Hub—a complete end-to-end virtual event solution. This is how we’ve set ourselves apart over the years—we help our customers find success in the midst of an ever-evolving industry while simultaneously making our products better than ever.

What in your experience has helped prepare you to manage through this very difficult time?

I could point to so many life experiences that have helped me personally and professionally manage these unprecedented times. Certainly in 20 years at Cvent, we’ve faced extreme business highs and lows. But as a leadership team over those 20 years, we were dedicated to our business, to our customers and to each other—which allowed us to weather the storms.

“Leaders like you are the ones who find pathways, and we have faith to be able to navigate through the difficult times.”

I think what really helped me manage this time is my upbringing. As a child of immigrants, my family’s history is steeped in a multi-generational struggle that involved indentured servitude and poverty. The odds were stacked against us as a family, but through hard work, a deep desire for each generation to do better than the last and a deep commitment to each other, we managed through difficult times.

My time at Cvent—and the challenges we faced in the midst of tough times and extreme competition—has followed a similar path. We made it from near bankruptcy during the dot com crash all the way to Wall Street to ring the bell on the New York Stock Exchange at Cvent’s IPO in 2013. Trying times make you realize what’s really important. And to me, that’s leaning on the people you trust and love most. That’s first and foremost my family, and then my Cvent family.

There seems to be a very collaborative environment within the meeting and event industry right now; how important has that collaboration been in seeking solutions for the future?

Times of crisis have the ability to tear people apart or bring them together, and the silver lining in all of this has been witnessing how our industry has really come together to support each other. I think we all recognized early on that we were all in the same boat, and that we could either put our walls up and fight the current on our own or band together to determine where we go from here. Thankfully, we all seemed to have chosen the latter and that truthfully has been making a difference. We’ve been staying positive, sharing ideas on weathering the storm and planning now for a brighter future ahead.

At Cvent, we’ve learned more from our customers in the last four months than at any other time in our history, which has been critical in our ability to meet their urgent needs, enhance our products and develop the new tools they need most. Our industry partnerships have grown stronger because we’re talking more often. It’s truly invigorating to know we’re part of such an incredible global community that is deeply passionate about bringing people together—through whatever medium that might be.  

What is the message you would like to send to meeting professionals right now?

The future of meetings and events is bright. In fact, the need to meet—even if it has to be through technology behind a computer screen—has never been clearer. The power of events has never been greater. Organizations have realized the incredible impact events have on their business. As individuals, people realize the importance of human connection. We are social creatures, and never has that been more apparent. Meeting professionals are the ones who can bring us all together—whether virtually, in-person or a hybrid mix of both.

WEC Grapevine: Reunite for Recovery

The need and importance of meetings and events is largely immutable, but how we deliver them and support them as an industry and technology company is what is always evolving. So, I encourage all meeting professionals to recognize the value they can (and will) bring to organizations and people around the world. Use this time to prepare our industry for the future, to expand your skillset, to learn something new, to make a new connection. All of these things will not only help position you for a future of success, but also will help propel our industry back to prosperity.  

What do you see as the takeaways from this panel discussion?

My top three takeaways would be:

1. The future of meetings and events is bright. People and businesses want and need to connect—whether in-person or virtually.

2. Virtual and hybrid events are here to stay—and they can, and will, be an integral part of your overall event program success and your marketing mix.

3. Event technology now, more than ever, is a critical piece of the meeting and event equation. Make sure it helps and doesn’t hinder the overall experience—from both the planner and attendee perspective. 

 Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash



Rich Luna

Rich Luna is Director of Publishing for MPI and Editor-in-chief of The Meeting Professional.